By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
Honeycomb is Google's tablet-specific Android operating system that is expected to ship in at least four new tablets. We take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Motorola Xoom, the LG G-Slate and the Toshiba Tablet which are all powerful next-generation 10" inch tablets aiming for the iPad's market share. Here's what we know about these new devices.
The Motorola Xoom was the first Honeycomb tablet announced in January during the Consumer Electronics Show. It sports a dual core 1GHz Tegra 2 processor, a full 1GB of RAM, 1280x800 HD video playback capability, it will have 32 GB of memory plus expansion capability via microSDHC.
The Motorola Xoom, which is coming to Verizon in the US at the end of the month and may hit Canada by March, is primed for higher 4G data speeds. The Motorola Xoom is the only Honeycomb tablet that we've seen up close and we can attest to its sleek and sturdy industrial design.
Expected to sell for around US$800 (what?), we're hoping that the Motorola Xoom will have variants with smaller memory (16GB) that may bringing the price down and make it more affordable to more people but no variants have been discussed.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Tab 2)
Revealed just this weekend at the Mobile World Congress, Samsung's second Galaxy Tab, is a 10.1" inch device that's more in synch with the current Honeycomb tablets and the iPad as well as HP's new WebOS TouchPad. The larger Galaxy Tab also has a 1280 x800 HD screen resolution, an 8 megapixel camera with LED flash plus a 2 megapixel front-facing camera for video chatting and will offer capacities of 16GB and 32GB as well as tun on a 1GHz Dual core processor.
The Tab Looks like a direct competitor to Motorola's Xoom in terms of specs and while price and availability has not yet been announced, we expect it to come to Canada by Spring through Bell and Rogers who currently carry the Galaxy Tab.
Feedback from the field is that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is thin and light and now sports a grippy rubber texture as opposed to the textured plastic of the older, smaller Galaxy Tab. It also has a giant round Samsung badge in the rear case as well as HD stereo speakers. The current 7" inch Galaxy Tab sells for around $600 without a contract, so this larger version is expected to be considerably higher, given the bump in specs and size.
LG has surprised us of late with its innovation and device fit and finish, specially in its Windows Phone smartphone line. The LG G-Slate may look nearly identical to the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, it is black with a 10.1" inch HD capable screen and runs Google's Honeycomb OS on a similar dual-core processor.
What we discovered about the LG G-Slate is that it is the first 3D capable tablet with dual cameras that can capture 3D video and images and a screen that can play them back but you will need to use 3D glasses to view them. An interesting angle but something most business users will care little about.
Slated to come out in March on the T-Mobile network in the US (making it compatible with Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Videotron in Canada), no specifics on pricing or Canadian availabilty have been revealed.
Toshiba been making tablets for Windows since the late 90's, they have also innovated the notebook and subnotebook space with very unique designs and treatments. It enters the Android Honeycomb tablet space with the recently revealed yet simply named Toshiba Tablet. Decked out in easy grip textured rubber, the Tablet integrates much of Toshiba's experience in building awesome HDTV's with a 16:10 widescreen capable of HD video at 720p resolution. It will be powered by the Tegra 2 processor and is also the only Honeycomb tablet that will feature a removable (replaceable) battery.
Toshiba is clearly focusing on the Tablet's entertainment value as well as connectivity with Wi-Fi, MiniUSB and HDMI-out and SDCard slots for expansion. No pricing has been released but our sources confirmed that the Tablet will come to Canada in Q2 2011.
Clearly aiming at the Apple iPad's market dominance, these new tablets offer more power, more expansion and possibly more functionality than Apple's one-year-old iPad. The iPad is available everywhere starting at $549 and runs the gamut of modes from entry-level Wi-Fi only tablets to higher capacity models with 3G data plus Wi-Fi.
Early indicators show that these Honeycomb flavoured Android tablets may be substantially more expensive (in the $800-$1300 range, from what we're hearing) than the iPad which will not make them competitive specially once Apple announces the iPad 2 in the same price range as the current line. We're happy that we are finally seeing some variety in the tablet market and we are excited for what Honeycomb can bring in terms of features.
Battery life and tablet-specific Android applications are two other components that must be considered. The iPad may have a 1GHz Apple A4 processor and only 256MB of RAM but it can manage 10 hours of video playback and Wi-Fi surfing easily. There's still no telling how good these Honeycomb tablets battery life will be specially since they have higher specs, although multi-core processors do a traditionally good job with managing power and battery life.
With the tablet-specific apps, we need to see a bunch of these from the outset. As early iPad user's will tell you, its no fun to run blown-up smartphone apps on a tablet screen and while the iPad has a number of apps that are designed for the tablet experience we feel there could be a lot more. Hopefully Google and the tablet manufacturers are preparing a substantial number of apps on the release of these tablets.
So, which of these new tablets will you be lining up for? Does an Android tablet sound viable to you or is the iPad still the king of the tablet jungle?
Motorola has just confirmed that the Motorola Xoom will sell for USD $600 for the Wi-Fi only variant while the Wi-Fi plus 3G model will go for USD $799.